How to play blackjack? The game rules

Blackjack is a casino version of a popular card game that people around the world use to make social gatherings more fun. How does this game work and does blackjack online differ from blackjack played in Traditional casinos? Or is it just the croupier’s presence?

Blackjack is also called Vingt-Un or Twenty-One. These names refer to the game’s goal, which is to earn exactly twenty-one points – no more, no less. The players sitting at the table aren’t competing with each other. Each of them, however, have their enemy in the croupier. When the moment comes to show the cards, they only compare their cards with the dealer’s cards.

What’s the difference between blackjack online and the traditional blackjack game?

The only difference between blackjack online and traditional blackjack played in brick-and-mortar casinos is that the table and the cards are made out of pixels. The game’s rules are the same, and people participating in the games have real names, ID numbers and particular amounts in their bank accounts. The game takes place with real people made of flesh and bones participating. There are different versions of the blackjack game, but they are all built around the rule that one has to reach a Point value of 21 to win.

History of blackjack

Blackjack has a pretty long history. The first version of this game was Referred to as Twenty-One, as the goal of it was to earn 21 points (which to this day remains the fundamental goal of the game). Nobody knows exactly which country was the birthplace of blackjack. There are no historical accounts pointing to that.

Out of the surviving sources, the earliest one is a novel by the famous Spanish writer, Cervantes. He’s the creator of one of the most iconic literary characters in the world: Don Quixote. It was Don Quixote that featured the first mentions of blackjack. Cervantes was a huge enthusiast of not only literature but also gambling. In his works, he would slip in information on different card games, some of which have faded into obscurity, whereas others survived to this day.
One could assume with a huge dose of certainty that today’s blackjack differs from the earliest version of this game. That’s how it is with card games: they are created, they evolve, and after some time they take a specific form for good.

Before blackjack spread all over America, it had first become popular in Europe. After Cervantes, blackjack was written about by the French in the 18th century. It is during that period when more substantial information on this game started appearing. One of the earliest variations was the Chemin de fer type (today it has evolved into a completely different game, baccarat). It was later replaced by the french ferme game, which has slightly different rules. By combining the rules of these two games and adding a few new ones, today’s blackjack was made.

The game’s name refers to one of the card ranks – a Black jack (labeled with the letter J). Why did this particular rank was so crucial here? It’s because in American casinos the set that was best paid by the croupier was actually a Black jack and a black ace.
Such combination gave the biggest number of points.

Blackjack made its was to America in the 19th century, but it took it a long time to gain popularity there that it enjoys today. It would take casinos decades to discover this game, noticing a significant earning potential in it. At first, temples of gambling would spoil the players with different special bonuses, like paying 10-1 in case of getting a black ace and a Black jack.
Such conveniences attracted a bigger number of players to casinos. They may have been canceled later, but by this point blackjack had already built a good PR in the United States. And casinos made fortunes on it. Much more than today – back then the rules were way less player-friendly, like it was forbidden to split the set, and the winnings were paid at the 1-1 ratio.

The blackjack game rules had to be revised, as casinos had started getting empty, and blackjack was losing its popularity. In order to save their business, casinos made it possible to split a set of two cards of the same value. They also increased the amounts of winnings, which before that had been paid at the 3-2 ratio. Such new blackjack started attracting players again, and temples of gambling were able to keep their business afloat.

In the mid 20th century, publications started appearing on the publishing market about the art of playing blackjack. They included tips and descriptions of strategies that allowed to minimize the risk of losing and take away the casino’s edge in the game. Such publications started with Roger Baldwin’s article called An optimal blackjack strategy, published in American Statistic Association.

Later on, huge notoriety was also gained by Edward O. Thorp’s book title Beat the Dealer: Strategy for the Game of Twenty-One. After it saw the light of day, casinos’ revenues dropped significantly, and players started getting advantage. In this publication that made a turning point in the history of blackjack, Thorp described a Card counting method developed by himself, which provided huge chances of beating the croupier.
Up to this day it is used by many players, who owe it a huge advantage over the casino. As it turns out, proper Card counting might have key significance in the game.

Thorp’s book reached the top of bestseller lists, resulted in an avalanche of articles and publications on playing blackjack, gaining interest of players around the world. The situation became inconvenient to casinos, which started changing the game rules to protect their interest. It was faced with such determined resistance from players, however, that in the end the rules remained unchanged, with one small difference. The croupier now had more decks of cards, which made it harder to count cards and earn points.

Thanks to numerous publications and strategies, players have actual chances to beat the croupier. It applies to playing at both traditional and online casinos.


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Blackjack – the rules

When the game starts, each player gets two cards from the croupier. They remain visible to the player and the croupier, who also takes two cards from the deck, but only reveals one. Now the players are making decisions that should be based on the total numerical value of both dealt cards. They have four available options. They can:

  • draw more cards (Hit),
  • choose not to draw (Stand),
  • Split the cards dealt (Split),
  • double them (Double down).

The rules for Split and Double down might differ depending on the game’s version. Some blackjack games allow the option to split aces, others don’t. After splitting aces, the player can only draw one more card, after splitting other ranks – one or more, depending on the blackjack game version.
Splitting is synonymous with making a new bet for a new hand, and such bet should be equal to the initial bet. Which means that After splitting four times, for example, the value of the bet increases four times.

Double down consists of The doubling involves choosing one more cardthe bet after getting two cards from the croupier. Some versions of the blackjack game allow doubling down for any total numeric value of individual cards. Others, however, only permit it under the condition that the total value is 9, 10 or 11. Doubling down means drawing one more card. The croupier is obligated to make such move possible for the player.

An ace combined with a jack ensures an instant win (such set is actually called blackjack) – and the highest possible one to boot. Other sets that allow reaching 21 points don’t ensure such high winnings in the game as blackjack does. In certain versions of the game, there is also an option available for side bets that are Handled by the croupier. The most common one is the so-called Insurance.

Blackjack: the rules (card values)

When playing the blackjack game, each card rank has its numerical value. If two cards have a combined value of 21, the player wins. Jacks, queens and kings have 10 points each. Aces have 1 or 11 points each (in that case the value depends on the player’s decision).
All the other cards have values Corresponding to their number.

Blackjack is one of the most interesting gambling games. The detailed rules might differ depending on the game version, which makes it a good idea to carefully read the applicable rules before starting to play. Before you start playing for money, get some practice first without making bets. It’s a very learning experience for every beginning player.